Safeguard Mobile App Produces Nearly-Immediate Results

On July 7, Crain’s Cleveland Business published an article titled Property Inspections are Safe, and Instant, with Safeguard’s New Mobile App.

Property inspections are safe, and instant, with Safeguard’s new mobile app
Safeguard produces mobile application that files results almost immediately

In the business of property preservation, a single-day lag between a property inspection and a report of the findings can leave an abandoned home vulnerable to vandalism, animals, insects, and frozen — and burst — pipes.

Using technology it says it has spent millions of dollars to develop, Safeguard Properties in Valley View has ramped up its real-time reporting of property conditions.

More than 70% of the more than 1 million inspections Safeguard contractors perform in any given month now are reported within minutes of the inspections via a mobile app the company has developed; that’s up from roughly 5% of reports submitted via the app this time last year, said George Mehok, Safeguard’s chief information officer.

Safeguard employs contractors across the county to inspect and maintain defaulted and foreclosed properties for lenders, mortgage servicers and other financial institutions.

Introduced after two years of development in late 2011 and modified since then, the mobile app replaces for those contractors who use it the filing of reports on a laptop in the field, or by desktop computer at the end of the day. Instead, they are tapping the touch screen of their smart phones to file reports as they go.

The app also eliminates the need to carry a camera and later connect it to a computer, because it prompts contractors to take images with their smart phones and attaches the images to their reports.

The app, which is compatible with Apple and Android operating systems, requests information real-time as a contractor reports that certain conditions at a property exist. As a result, it helps eliminate the frequency with which contractors might file a report only to realize they need to return to a property because they neglected to inspect or photograph something.

“We have a mobile work force, so this is perfect,” Mr. Mehok said. “A lot of the business is timing.”

The app means inspection results, in most cases, reach clients 24 hours faster than they might have before, Mr. Mehok said, which should translate into better- preserved properties. And it has proven compelling enough to one mortgage servicer that, in the last month, the company started paying to use the app. (A Safeguard spokeswoman wouldn’t identify the company.)

Unlike third-party mobile apps with similar functions, Safeguard’s app is tailored specifically to the property preservation business — some are focused on insurance, for example — and integrates with Safeguard’s internal systems, Mr. Mehok said.

“I’m not aware of another field service company that has its own,” he said.

The move to mobile

Neither is Eric S. Miller.

The use of mobile apps is growing in the property preservation business, but Safeguard — in developing its own app in-house — is on the “front edge” of the trend, said Mr. Miller, executive director of the National Association of Mortgage Field Services Inc., based in Stow.

Most companies, Mr. Miller noted, are using mobile apps developed by third-party providers, or they’re encouraging contractors in the field to sign into their websites using their smart phones.

“I think the ability to get the data in quicker, more real-time … those timeframes will continue to be pressured,” Mr. Miller said. “Better work, faster work, cheaper work, those are your three options. You’re going to see a concerted effort by the industry and by a lot of people to get some type of simplistic web-based service, or you’re going to see them go mobile.”

The nonprofit association itself is developing a mobile app that its member companies, which include Safeguard, can use to stay aware of problem properties, Mr. Miller said.

Safeguard does not yet ask its contractors, which include mom-and-pop businesses and regional companies, to use its mobile app, but the time will come, a spokeswoman said. At present, not every contractor is jumping aboard because many are accustomed to the way they’ve done business, said Jennifer Jozity, assistant vice president of inspections operations.

But those that do use the app should find it to be a more profitable, efficient way of doing business, Mr. Mehok said, and that should ring even truer as the company puts GPS capabilities to work for contractors.

Safeguard’s information technology team is working to set up proximity routing using Google Maps, wherein a contractor would be sent on assignments in an order that’s most efficient to avoid zigzagging around town. It also in recent months started leveraging GPS information, specifically longitude and latitude, so it can better identify when a contractor actually is reporting from — and inspecting — the wrong property.

Tapping the data mine

Safeguard’s IT team has rolled out more than the mobile app.

Using a data warehouse it implemented over the last 12 months, Safeguard is mining its data so it can share with clients when an area has more incidences of a certain type, such as mold or vandalism, and also what the probability of properties becoming vacant is in certain neighborhoods.

“We collect a lot of information that we then give back to our clients,” Mr. Mehok said, citing the 300 million data points collected about properties in any given month.

The data mining also will help Safeguard identify regions where the company needs to improve the quality of its work, executives say. Quality “heat maps” show the company where there may be need for training, corrective action or hiring more contractors, perhaps because deadlines aren’t being met or return visits to properties are more frequent.

The company also rolled out enhancements last month to its order processing system to automate work flow and improve management of its orders. The enhanced system will report to Safeguard’s vice president of operations how long employees spend processing orders, something Safeguard executives say is not intended to be used punitively, but to identify the more productive employees who could train others, Mr. Mehok said.

“Greater efficiencies will allow us to remain a market leader, better serve existing clients and attract new clients, recruit strong and talented employees, and better protect properties in our care,” Safeguard CEO Alan Jaffa said.

To view the online article, please click here.

About Safeguard 
Safeguard Properties is the largest mortgage field services company in the U.S. Founded in 1990 by Robert Klein and based in Valley View, Ohio, the company inspects and maintains defaulted and foreclosed properties for mortgage servicers, lenders,  and other financial institutions. Safeguard employs approximately 1,700 people, in addition to a network of thousands of contractors nationally. Website:



Alan Jaffa

Alan Jaffa is the chief executive officer for Safeguard, steering the company as the mortgage field services industry leader. He also serves on the board of advisors for SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Alan joined Safeguard in 1995, learning the business from the ground up. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2002, and was named CEO in May 2010. His hands-on experience has given him unique insights as a leader to innovate, improve and strengthen Safeguard’s processes to assure that the company adheres to the highest standards of quality and customer service.

Under Alan’s leadership, Safeguard has grown significantly with strategies that have included new and expanded services, technology investments that deliver higher quality and greater efficiency to clients, and strategic acquisitions. He takes a team approach to process improvement, involving staff at all levels of the organization to address issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify new and better ways to serve clients.

In 2008, Alan was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business in its annual “40-Under-40” profile of young leaders. He also was named a NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist in 2013.


Chief Operating Officer

Michael Greenbaum

Michael Greenbaum is the chief operating officer for Safeguard. Mike has been instrumental in aligning operations to become more efficient, effective, and compliant with our ever-changing industry requirements. Mike has a proven track record of excellence, partnership and collaboration at Safeguard. Under Mike’s leadership, all operational departments of Safeguard have reviewed, updated and enhanced their business processes to maximize efficiency and improve quality control.

Mike joined Safeguard in July 2010 as vice president of REO and has continued to take on additional duties and responsibilities within the organization, including the role of vice president of operations in 2013 and then COO in 2015.

Mike built his business career in supply-chain management, operations, finance and marketing. He has held senior management and executive positions with Erico, a manufacturing company in Solon, Ohio; Accel, Inc., a packaging company in Lewis Center, Ohio; and McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Aurora, Ohio.

Before entering the business world, Mike served in the U.S. Army, Ordinance Branch, and specialized in supply chain management. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point (U.S. Military Academy), where he majored in quantitative economics.



Sean Reddington

Sean Reddington is the new Chief Information Officer for Safeguard Properties LLC. Sean has over 15+ years of experience in Information Services Management with a strong focus on Product and Application Management. Sean is responsible for Safeguard’s technological direction, including planning, implementation and maintaining all operational systems

Sean has a proven record of accomplishment for increasing operational efficiencies, improving customer service levels, and implementing and maintaining IT initiatives to support successful business processes.  He has provided the vision and dedicated leadership for key technologies for Fortune 100 companies, and nationally recognized consulting firms including enterprise system architecture, security, desktop and database management systems. Sean possesses strong functional and system knowledge of information security, systems and software, contracts management, budgeting, human resources and legal and related regulatory compliance.

Sean joined Safeguard Properties LLC from RenPSG Inc. which is a nationally leading Philintropic Software Platform in the Fintech space. He oversaw the organization’s technological direction including planning, implementing and maintaining the best practices that align with all corporate functions. He also provided day-to-day technology operations, enterprise security, information risk and vulnerability management, audit and compliance, security awareness and training.

Prior to RenPSG, Sean worked for DMI Consulting as a Client Success Director where he guided the delivery in a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 enterprise client account. He was responsible for all project deliveries in terms of quality, budget and timeliness and led the team to coordinate development and definition of project scope and limitations. Sean also worked for KPMG Consulting in their Microsoft Practice and Technicolor’s Ebusiness Division where he had responsibility for application development, maintenance, and support.

Sean is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts and received his Masters in International Business from Central Michigan University. He was also a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force prior to his career in the business world.


General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard and oversees the legal, human resources, training, and compliance departments. Linda’s responsibilities cover regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human resources and training initiatives, compliance, litigation and claims management, and mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans over 20 years, and Linda’s experience covers regulatory disclosure, corporate governance compliance, risk assessment, executive compensation, litigation management, and merger and acquisition activity. Her experience at a former Fortune 500 financial institution during the subprime crisis helped develop Linda’s pro-active approach to change management during periods of heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Linda previously served as vice president and attorney for National City Corporation, as securities and corporate governance counsel for Agilysys Inc., and as an associate at Thompson Hine LLP. She earned her JD at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Linda holds a degree in economics from Miami University and an MBA. In 2017, Linda was named as both a “Woman of Influence” by HousingWire and as a “Leading Lady” by MReport.


Chief Financial Officer

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard. Joe is responsible for the Control, Quality Assurance, Business Development, Accounting & Information Security departments, and is a Managing Director of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Joe has been in a wide variety of roles in finance, supply chain management, information systems development, and sales and marketing. His career includes senior positions with McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Newell/Rubbermaid, and Procter and Gamble.

Joe has an MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting program.


AVP, High Risk and Investor Compliance

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer is the assistant vice president of high risk and investor compliance for Safeguard. In this role, Steve is responsible for managing our clients’ conveyance processes, Safeguard’s investor compliance team and developing our working relationships with cities and municipalities around the country. He also works directly with our clients in our many outreach efforts and he represents Safeguard at a number of industry conferences each year.

Steve joined Safeguard in 1998 as manager over the hazard claims team. He was instrumental in the development and creation of policies, procedures and operating protocol. Under Steve’s leadership, the department became one of the largest within Safeguard. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the newly-formed high risk department, once again building its success. Steve was promoted to director over these two areas in 2007, and he was promoted to assistant vice president in 2012.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve spent 10 years within the insurance industry, holding a number of positions including multi-line property adjuster, branch claims supervisor, and multi-line and subrogation/litigation supervisor. Steve is a graduate of Grove City College.


AVP, Operations

Jennifer Jozity

Jennifer Jozity is the assistant vice president of operations, overseeing inspections, REO and property preservation for Safeguard. Jen ensures quality work is performed in the field and internally, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Jen has demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent results in order audit and order management.  She will build upon these strengths in order to deliver this level of excellence in both REO and property preservation operations.

Jen joined Safeguard in 1997 and was promoted to director of inspections operations in 2009 and assistant vice president of inspections operations in 2012.

She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in business.


AVP, Finance

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of finance for Safeguard. She is responsible for the company’s national workforce of approximately 1,000 employees. She manages recruitment strategies, employee relations, training, personnel policies, retention, payroll and benefits programs. Additionally, Jennifer has oversight of the accounts receivable and loss functions formerly within the accounting department.

Jennifer joined the company in April 2009 as a manager of accounting and finance and a year later was promoted to director. She was named AVP of human capital in 2014. Prior to joining Safeguard, she held several management positions at OfficeMax and InkStop in both operations and finance.

Jennifer is a graduate of Youngstown State University. She was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Archer Award finalist for HR Executive of the Year in 2017.


AVP, Application Architecture

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application architecture for Safeguard. Rick is responsible for evolving the Safeguard IT systems. He leads the design of Safeguard’s enterprise application architecture. This includes Safeguard’s real-time integration with other systems, vendors and clients; the future upgrade roadmap for systems; and standards designed to meet availability, security, performance and goals.

Rick has been with Safeguard since 2011. During that time, he has led the system upgrades necessary to support Safeguard’s growth. In addition, Rick’s team has designed and implemented several innovative systems.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Rick was director of enterprise architecture at Revol Wireless, a privately held CDMA Wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana, and operated his own consulting firm providing services to the manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy sectors.


AVP, Technology Infrastructure and Cloud Services

Steve Machovina

Steve Machovina is the assistant vice president of technology infrastructure and cloud services for Safeguard. He is responsible for the overall management and design of Safeguard’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. He manages all technology engineering staff who support data centers, telecommunications, network, servers, storage, service monitoring, and disaster recovery.

Steve joined Safeguard in November 2013 as director of information technology operations.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was vice president of information technology at Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana. He also held management positions with Northcoast PCS and Corecomm Communications, and spent nine years as a Coast Guard officer and pilot.

Steve holds a BBA in management information systems from Kent State University in Ohio and an MBA from Wayne State University in Michigan.


Assistant Vice president of Application Development

Steve Goberish

Steve Goberish, is the assistant vice president of application development for Safeguard. He is responsible for the maintenance and evolution of Safeguard’s vendor systems ensuring high-availability, security and scalability while advancing the vendor products’ capabilities and enhancing the vendor experience.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was a senior technical architect and development manager at First American Title Insurance, a publicly held title insurance provider based in southern California, in addition to managing and developing applications in multiple sectors from insurance to VOIP.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Ohio.